Consumer data companies (also known as targeted marketing firms) compile information about people from a variety of sources such as public records, credit report agencies, credit card transactions, email lists, and internet behavior. These types of firms, who have been operating for decades, typically sell the inexpensive, up-to-date data to companies wanting to customize marketing campaigns to potential customers. Coincidentally, these readily available data contain the majority of household and individual demographic and socioeconomic fields that are used in transportation planning.

When compared to population estimates from the U.S. Decennial Census, about 90% of individuals are present in these databases. These data provide the added benefit over U.S. Census data of being updated every 6 weeks with a richer picture.

The variable list below shows the type of information available at the household-level. We have split the list into three different groups for easy browsing.

Commonly Used

The first set includes variables commonly used in transportation modeling today.

Highly Relevant

The second set includes variables that are more obviously relevant to transportation and land use analysis, but are not available in U.S. Census data.


The last set includes variables that are not clearly relevant, but may be in combination with others or for unconventional policy questions.